I’d heard about this 40 minute short a while ago, but hadn’t had a chance to see it until recently. It was certainly worth the wait. This film packs more sheer creepiness into it’s limited runtime than most features. It’s also one of the few films to successfully channel the works of H.P. Lovecraft despite not being based directly on one of his stories.
Sam, (Eric Lange) and Harry, (Ray Wise), run a scam on the investment company they work for. They get the money but something goes badly wrong resulting in Harry putting a bullet in his own head and Sam fleeing town, so nervous that a police car following behind him leaves him puking at the side of the road, and things get worse from there. After falling asleep at the wheel he turns on the radio to help stay awake and hears what sounds like a distress call from AM 1200, a religious station. Against his better judgment he investigates and finds a man cuffed to a rail and babbling incoherently about “the transmissions”. Saying more would spoil the film’s surprises, suffice it to say the police are the least of Sam’s problems now.
AM1200 starts out like a crime film with the news of Harry’s death on the radio and a montage of flashbacks giving us a basic idea of what has happened but no details. Then once Sam hears the distress call it switches over into horror mode and really takes off. But again, no details are given, we see what is happening but are never sure of just what is going on. And it’s done well enough that rather than be frustrating and confusing it’s scary and unsettling. The station itself, in very obvious disarray and empty except for it’s lone occupant is about as creepy a setting as you could ask for. And as he goes deeper into the building it only becomes worse.
Writer/director David Prior’s background was industrial films and special features for DVDs. He obviously learned well from the films he did them for, because he hands in a well done, nearly flawless film. That said it’s mystifying why he hasn’t directed another film, all of his credits since are for special features. With this as a calling card he should have gotten offers to do low budget horror films if nothing else, because this shows he can deliver scares on the cheap.
AM1200 isn’t an easy film to find, but it’s worth it when you do. The film’s website is still up but hasn’t been updated since 2010, which in it’s own way is as ghostly as AM1200’s station…